I know a guy that knows a guy

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You should know by now that I am an Evangelist. Whether or not you like the title it does represent what I do: spreading the word passionately. Some call us Technical Marketers and with a little self-deprecating I sometimes call myself the Enterprise Clown. Because that’s what we do, we entertain people in a professional way about technology. A good Evangelist is not per definition an excellent architect or engineer, it’s someone that can express a technical message to any type of audience. It’s the depth of technology and that ability to express that makes you a good evangelist. I hope I can consider myself a good Evangelist.

Today’s Social Media marketing

If you are in marketing you probably already know that Social Media marketing doesn’t always have the ROI as you were hoping for. It’s because you are doing it wrong! You don’t want clicks on a banner because no-one looks at a banner. This presentation of last year by Cain Ransbottyn was an eye-opener for a lot of people in Belgium. 

I know it’s slightly provocative but you probably get the picture here. Since his presentation I have followed Cain slightly closer to see what he was up to. This is for example his latest trick I just discovered this morning! This is a sponsored like so this will re-appear on my feed instead of just once. As this page he is liking is about a “fictitious person” my guess is that he is still testing this if it works. I have to admit it is brilliant! We as users are kind of already getting used to sponsored pages in our feed but this is using the guy as a product and most of you won’t notice.

I know a guy that knows a guy

Let’s get back to the role of the evangelist. What’s the role of an evangelist? How much benefit can a company get by hiring an Enterprise Clown? Wouldn’t you rather have an extra Named Account Sales or APAC Architect? They can explain the product equally well, right? That’s why we hire these guys. Today an evangelist is a part of your marketing strategy. And more importantly Social Media marketing. It’s the guy everyone knows. But it’s also the guy people will buy from

slide: Jan-Willem Alphenaar

With the rise of Social Media knowledge is at the fingertips of the customer. This is no longer a spread the message and leads-nurturing thing alone. Customers not only consume that knowledge but they talk about it. They even look at all the other products before you get involved as a company. Jan Willem Alphenaar, the Dutch twin brother of Cain Ransbottyn, but less arrogant 🙂 expressed this very well in his presentation at Social Media Club Antwerp last month. This is the classic approach of the sales process from the customers view:

need > search for solutions > shortlist > selection proces > decision

Over 50% of customers today will contact you after the shortlist has been made. But if you are the guy that they already know and you have already shared your knowledge with them you might even be an important creator of that need. When you create the need in the mind of the customer you will be definition be in the shortlist and you’ll have a way better chance of actually winning as the selection process will be focussed around how other products are compared to yours. In the past year I had numerous people telling me they bought Veeam after seeing a presentation I gave that made them rethink their current strategy. So there wasn’t even a buying process started yet.

Who’s the guy?

So how do you find “the guy or how do you become “the guy

Let me answer the first question first. If you are a marketing manager you’d love to have as many as possible brand managers / evangelists in your company that are naturals. Because guess what: you can’t become an evangelist, you are born an evangelist! This only works if it’s real. Don’t think you can just point someone out in the marketing department to “do” Social Media. So find the guy that is helping on the forum on a Saturday night, lives on twitter, talks about technology that he doesn’t need for his job, … Although KLOUT for example is a controversial number as such, no-one can deny that someone with +50 as a klout score is active on Social Media. To what audience that activity is focussed can be altered but you have the right person.

How do you become “the guy”? There are a few key principles I follow. They might not all apply to you but they are pretty universal:

  • Be active and be visible. in the beginning you will need to expand your audience beyond the existing. this can be done by being even more active (writing more blogposts), interacting more and with different people (gurus in their experience). Sometimes taking the visibility to another level also helps. At Veeam for example I took the green slighty higher than necessary 🙂
  • Sharing is caring. help the community wherever you can without asking anything in return. This by the way is something marketing should think about as well; content sharing should be FREE. Even so free that people don’t have to register with their email address. The more you share for free the more they will return instead of you having to get back at them.
  • Be genuine and think about your personal principles! Live by your principles and leave any person/company that asks you to abandon your principles. But also make them clear to the people you work with. Some of my principles for example are: don’t talk about the competition (that’s only good for the sales process, not for marketing). no use of numbers that are not backed by research, no use of terms or definitions I don’t believe in myself.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but be ready to learn from them and apologise when necessary. Because frankly: not everyone has the same sense of humor out there. Always remember you are still representing a company! I made that mistake at least twice too many.
  • When you are angry or disgruntled this is an easy to remember line of 3 questions in one: does it have to be said … by me … now? I don’t remember where I picked that up but it did help me a lot to delete some tweets just in time.
Remember: there is only 1 brand more important than the brand you represent; it’s your own brand! By being genuine for 100% of your time, people will follow you without questioning and every company you represent wins by that.

IMPORTANT PS: the whole post is written in a male fashion. This is done on purpose to point you out here that this role is no-where near being male gender only! There are a lot of awesome female brand managers out there. Just change the title of this post by “I know a gal that knows a gal”

External links

  • Social Media Club Antwerp gives their first KLOUT-party where your KLOUT score is used as a currency for what level of the building you may enter and what type of food and beverages you get for free. If I would have been in the country, lobster and champagne at the rooftop would have been mine 🙂
  • Everyone interested in Social Media and some howto tips shoud definitely listen and subscribe to the Geek Whisperers Podcast with 3 of my very good friends in the Industry Amy LewisMatthew Brender and John Troyer respectively Social Media leaders at Cisco, EMC and VMware.
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